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Spring 2012 Teacher Spotlight
Meet MaryJo Birt
MaryJo Birt was an “Air Force brat” born in Michigan and moved around a lot as an infant and child, spending many of her early years at Air Force bases in France then Ramstien, Germany. At the age of five, MaryJo’s family moved to Idaho, Washington state, and then to Cheyenne, where she attended school from elementary through high school. She attended LCCC and received Associates in Early Childhood Education, then later attended the University of Wyoming and earner her B.A. in Elementary Education. Mary Jo Has a middle school endorsement and a masters in Literacy (Reading in the content area) from Lesley University.
Currently MaryJo teaches 6th-8th grade social studies at Wheatland Middle School, and incorporates geography into her classroom curriculum every day. Her 6th grade classes use maps to understand the areas they are studying- historical atlases as well as desk atlases. The 7th grade students are studying Wyoming history and Geography for one quarter and World Geography for the remaining three quarters of the school year. MaryJo is also very involved in History Day, and those students use maps to show where in history their topics occurred. The students loved using the “gi-enormous” Wyoming map to study energy, counties, and history on their hands and knees, moving around continuously over the large floor map. The students love to work with maps and pictures from the National Geographic website in conjunction with many primary source activities. Some of the highlights from MaryJo’s classroom include cartography projects where students have recreated the world map in super-size, creating country flyers, and the five themes of Wyoming in pictures.
Many days, MaryJo finds herself coming home from school and spending several additional hours creating and refining lesson that will appeal and challenge the wide range of students in her classes. She says “it is really easy to get lost in time searching for new information and photos on the National Geographic website- developing technology assignments and integrating primary sources with the five themes of geography—It is a busy year but… I’m loving’ it!